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Natural Remedies to Get Rid of a Headache

April 14, 2021

We turned to the experts for drug-free ways to tackle headache pain. Add these strategies to your arsenal to help alleviate future aches — and prevent them from happening in the first place.

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An All-Too-Common Complaint

Five years ago, the World Health Organization announced that an estimated half to three quarters of adults aged 18-65 reported a headache in the previous year, and that up to 1 in every 25 adults experienced a headache on 15 or more days every month. Not surprisingly during a stressful 2020, headache specialists and other health-care practitioners have related new or worsening symptoms in their patients over the past year.

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When and How to Get Help

If headache pain is interfering with how you live your life, you should talk to your doctor — and according to the Mayo Clinic, if your headache includes emergency indicators like sudden and very severe pain, pain after an injury or fall, worsening pain that resists treatment, or symptoms such as fever, rash, neck stiffness, confusion and double vision, you should seek care immediately.

We’re here, in turn, to talk about the non-worrisome headaches, the ones that we resign ourselves to grinning and bearing. While there’s a great deal we don’t yet know about why headaches happen, there’s a great deal we’re learning about how to tackle them. Ready to add some strategies for combatting headaches to your arsenal? Read on.

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Practicing Yoga

In a study published last year in Neurology, researchers in India found that yoga was a cost-effective and safe secondary treatment for migraine sufferers. That research could offer hope for other headache sufferers, too. “There are common triggers such as stress, anxiety, inadequate sleep, etc. for non migrainous headaches that may be alleviated by practicing yogic asanas, breathing and relaxing techniques,” says Dr. Gautam Sharma, a professor of cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi and co-author of the study.

That doesn’t mean firing up a random YouTube class once your head begins to throb. Sharma suggests speaking with your doctor “regarding the general suitability for a yoga program” for you. “Needless to emphasize,” he adds, “a qualified and experienced teacher is important to supervise a safe and successful practice. Once adept at the technique, one may continue to self practice at home.”

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Applying a Hot or Cold Compress

Though the mechanisms by which they work aren’t well understood, both hot and cold compresses are reported to be effective in reducing headache pain. The National Headache Foundation suggests applying cold packs to your temples, while warm packs should be applied to the back of your head and neck. Cold therapy is often associated with migraines (and heat, in turn, is associated with tension headaches), but effectiveness varies from person to person; split the difference and try a gel pack that can be heated or cooled and is designed to hold a therapeutic temperature for 20 minutes.

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